In our recent blog, How to protect yourself from property and payment diversion fraud, we looked at the different ways in which criminals are scamming victims out of both their property and their money. In this blog, we will focus on Payment Diversion Fraud. This is where a criminal tricks a client into transferring money to their account rather than to the solicitor’s account. Criminals are becoming more sophisticated and their attempts to scam are becoming harder to spot.

Joint guidance has been released by the Law Society, National Crime Agency, Action Fraud and the National Economic Crime Centre explains how you can protect yourself from fraud when buying or selling a home. The main points are:

  • Get bank details from your law firm either in person or over the phone
  • Law firms rarely change their bank details. If you receive an email or phone call advising of a change in details. Call the firm using the main switchboard number. Do not call any number provided in an email.
  • Set strong and separate passwords for your accounts
  • Avoid posting on social media about buying/selling
  • Avoid using public or unprotected wifi
  • Transfer a small sum to the law firm then call to check they have received it.
  • If you have any doubt DO NOT SEND MONEY

The criminals are sophisticated and they can be very convincing. Levi Solicitors LLP will never advise you of a change of bank details via email. Our bank details will be provided to you at the outset of a matter and will not be provided by email. Please call us to double check the account details before you send a payment.

If you suspect you have been the victim of conveyancing fraud you should immediately:

Contact your bank to advise them of the fraudulent activity, asking them to contact the receiving bank to freeze the funds

Alert your lawyer; it may be that they are being targeted by criminals, who may pose a risk to other customers.

Contact Action Fraud; report suspected fraud to Action Fraud through their website: www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime or by calling 0300 123 2040.

See here for the NCA Payment Diversion Fraud information.

At Levi Solicitors, our property and accounts departments are alive to the risks of property and payment diversion fraud. If you have any queries regarding your transaction or payment, please contact your conveyancing team direct, or call our head office on 0800 988 7756.